pink workspace with pen mug notebook and candle

“You’re so lucky you get to work from home!” is a phrase that often leaves people’s mouths when I tell them what I do for a living. Well, yes I am – and I’m absolutely loving my new-found freedom and flexibility, not to mention my new affinity for Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour. I don’t have to drag myself up at an ungodly hour to get to the tube station in the rain, only to find that the Central Line is busted (again!) and I’m going to be late to a V. IMPORTANT. MEETING. I don’t need to fanny around with my makeup, hair and outfit or worry about nasty colleagues or a lacklustre boss.

HOWEVER, it’s not all brilliant. This is my second “go” at working from home, albeit this time I’m working for myself rather than for a company. The first time around, I really didn’t have a nice time. Working from home can make you feel so lonely and out of the loop when you’re not seeing a regular group of clients every day or heading for post-work bevs of a Thursday evening. Although I wasn’t particularly enjoying my role in the company when I worked from home the first time around, I certainly didn’t make the best of my situation. This exacerbated the difficulties within my role and eventually, my mental health was at stake.

Now however, I feel I’ve finally cracked this work from home malarkey. Not only am I working for myself (madness!) in something I love (absolute madness!), I can make my own rules, be flexible and focus on that all-important (and oft-neglected) mental health, should I need to.

Here are a few tips, from me to you, to make your work from home journey a little easier and hopefully, long-lived.

gratitude and happiness planner

Have a to-do list, every day

I write out a to-do list every morning in a notebook. I then create another one in the afternoon and don’t stop until it’s done. Whichever way you choose to create one – whether it’s on a Post-It, your phone, or on the computer – it will add a much-needed structure to your day. Also, do your most important task first. In the past, I’ve got heaps of housework done and even deigned to fix a hem on a pair of trousers I’d not touched in six months to avoid a task. However, I obviously ended up having to do it anyway and worked much later than I needed to. Getting it out of the way early will ensure you are much less likely to stray from your work.

Get out and about

I absolutely love my home and Will and I have worked hard to make it the eclectic, interesting place it is. However, sitting at my desk – sometimes not leaving it all day – can get jarring. Make use of the space around you. During the heatwave, I took my laptop down to Walpole Park and sat in the sun. I’ve written in cosy pubs in the colder months, hipster coffee bars and also on a hill looking out at the Cornish sea. If you’ve got an internet connection, you’re golden. If you prefer working within your four walls though, just taking a “proper” lunch hour and getting out of the house for a walk makes such a difference.

Create a workspace

“Oh wow, you must sit in your pyjamas and work from bed all day!” Well, yeah – kind of. It’s true that my work uniform consists of various underwear items, baggy dungarees and a vast array of Will’s t-shirts – but working from bed is a no-no. I have a clear work-space which is a proper desk set with all my lovely plants and stationery. Sitting there puts me into “work-mode” and makes me productive in a way that sitting in bed just can’t compare to. That’s not to say you should NEVER work from bed if it takes your fancy, but making sure you have a set space will ensure your deadlines are met instead of drifting off for a random 11am snooze after Jeremy Kyle.

working space desk with apple macbook notebook and plants

Top three work from home pros

  • You can work ANYWHERE you like
    See above. World is your oyster, mate.
  • It doesn’t have to be 9-5
    I’m 100% more productive and creative in the afternoon and evenings, so I why on EARTH would I start work at 8am? I often write my best pieces working late into the night.
  • Working in your pants
    Need I say more? ALSO, makeup-free days. My skin LOVES me. Seriously though, you are your best you when you’re comfortable.

Top three work from home cons

  • It’s not always 9-5
    I often find myself working at weekends, which is fine for me if I have a spare hour or so. However, others may require a much stricter work schedule to work to.
  • It can be isolating
    As above, I hated this element the first time round. I’d sometimes find I hadn’t spoken to a single, solitary soul all day. Now, I make sure to get on the blower and annoy the hell out of everyone I know. Also, call clients or any work colleagues if you can. Because you know, sometimes it’s hard to read the tone of an email and take shit to heart. I also take the opportunity to catch up with friends I haven’t seen for years by co-working. It really is what you make it.
  • You need to be totally strict with your diet
    Not doing a mad early-morning march to the tube can make a difference to your waistline. Be honest with yourself if you’re being totally sedentary and get on the treadmill and swap biscuits for celery. I’ve been doing the 5:2 diet for a while, which is easy enough, as Will and I plan all our meals in advance. Somehow, knowing what is coming next saves me from snacking.

pink background googly eyes

How can YOU work from home?

Jack in ya job and go freelance, boi. If you’re not quite at that stage yet, many workplaces offer flexible working patterns. For jobs that only require an internet connection and a laptop, there’s no reason why you can’t work from home. If you think your boss is sound, why not broach it?

Freelance Friends, Office-Population-One Pals and Solo Sidekicks…

I work around London most of the week and am always looking for someone to work alongside in the fabulous spaces we have available. If you want to meet up, contact me at ella.delancey@gmail.com. Obviously, there’s the mandatory five o’ clock Cocktail Hour – but if you can stomach that, we’ll be grand.

Why did I ditch social media?

social media queen girl in pink taking selfie surrounded by balloons

Why did I ditch social media? Because it was pretty much taking over my life, is the short answer.

Alarm goes off – straight on Instagram, Snapchat and a scroll through Facebook. Light goes out at night – best have one more scroll through social media to be sure I haven’t missed anything.

I’ve had Instagram for a long ass time, and for the most part used it as a kind of picture diary for myself, uploading images of parties, people and travels. Sometimes I’d go back through it to look at seriously fun times. It was fun! It was supposed to be fun.

Something changed along the way though, in that it became more than that to me, and became a numbers game.

I had a phase in the summer in which I tried to ‘theme’ my Instagram, uploading bordered, similarly filtered images, three times a day, with clever hashtags and formatting. It was so boring and limiting, and made absolutely no difference whatsoever to my engagement. If anything, it was worse because the images weren’t ‘real’ any more.

I’m not proud of it, but it got to the point where I was doing research to try and understand Instagram’s algorithms to figure out why my images weren’t doing as well as someone else’s.

And the long and short of it was, and still is – that actually, I really don’t care who looked at the images. I couldn’t give a shit whether Jim Bob from high school has seen my Saturday Night Out post and liked it or not. It wasn’t even about the people – it was about the numbers. And unfortunately, I was the only one in my weird, self-centred race.

The other issue of that was some serious stalking. I think it’s okay to dabble in some light stalking, we all do it to some extent, especially when people leave their lives so open online. However, when you’re 29 weeks into some bird’s photos you don’t even know, it’s time to step away from the smartphone, lady.

Going cold Turkey

Halfway through a bottle of wine, and having just had that heart-stopping moment of accidentally liking someone’s picture I wasn’t even following (maybe they won’t notice, surely they wont notice? Note: THEY’LL FUCKIN’ NOTICE, YOU DOUGHNUT), I deleted all of my social media apps.

Now, I’m clearly back on social media. You may not have even noticed I’d gone. However, the way I’m using it is a lot different now.

It was really hard, though. The next morning, I’d forgotten I’d done it and went to look at Instagram. Cold reality settling, I did something else. In fact, I ‘did something else’ a lot, whenever I found myself unlocking my phone for no other reason than to scroll through someone else’s life or post some picture for likes. I read the news, read a book, I wrote for my blog, I researched things for my new job, for travelling, for my health. I went for a ‘walk’ spontaneously for the first time in my life.

Switching off

The first couple of days were tough, and what shocked me was the amount of times I’d have that urge to open an app. Any spare second and I’d go to open one. Over the course of the next couple of weeks though, I found myself thinking less and less of social media. I even watched an entire film through with Will, without having a sly scroll.

However, I need social media, for my job, blog and general knowledge. I decided to reinstall and set myself limits. Ten minutes max, twice a day – no stalking whatsoever. To aid this, I did a massive unfollow / unfriend cull.

It has worked! Instead of scrolling endlessly, I usually have a purpose and I am much more able to switch off.

So for now, I’m back on social media. Still liking, still scrolling – but on a much smaller scale. And the numbers? Yeah, I might still post a selfie if I’m particularly feeling myself that day, but I realise that what’s important is whether I like the picture, not anyone else. I also know that some people think I’m beautiful and awesome no matter what – and that’s what I care about.

Interested in my thoughts? Read this open letter to bitchy high school teacher.

Want to know about waxing?

I’ve been waxing my bits since 2010. Eight years of visiting various salons every 7 – 8 weeks (I’m blessed / cursed with slow-growing hair). That’s about eight waxes a year – or about 64 since I started. And because of that, truth be told, I consider myself an expert on the subject.

A strong advocate for the manicured front garden, I’ve shared a lot of advice with curious friends over the years. Here it is in all its glory, to help you on your way to achieving a Waxed Wonderland. Sorry. I’m having far too much fun here.

Prep

Rule number one: don’t get waxed the day before that big date, beach day or bikini photoshoot or whatever. You’ll be a red, swollen mess. Get waxed a good couple of days beforehand to allow everything to chill the fuck out.

When choosing where you go to get waxed, do your research and don’t ever choose the cheapest. I’ve seen intimate waxes cost from £15 – £50+ – and you truly get what you pay for. Cheaper ones tend to be less experienced waxers sticking strip wax in any old place and basically ripping your skin off before sending you out into the street traumatised. I’ve been seriously bruised and burnt over the years by shit waxers, so I’m asking you to not make the same mistake.

More expensive waxers will use higher quality wax, will use a proper technique including pressing down on the area they’ve just waxed (it’s kind of like rubbing a bruised elbow – don’t know why, but it works). They’ll also use talc to ease the waxing process, and calming oils or sprays afterwards. One time, a premium waxer spent a good 20 minutes down there with a pair of tweezers to truly ensure she’d done her job. Top marks!

In terms of prepping the actual area ahead of time – just be clean and make sure the hair is a good few mm long, for the wax to grip. It doesn’t hurt to exfoliate as well, to help with any ingrown hairs.

Hot wax vs strip wax

You’ll often be given the option between the strip and hot wax. Strip wax is where wax is applied to the area with a bamboo stick, a piece of paper is applied to the wax, and then the whole lot is ripped off. Hot wax is pretty much the same, except it’s usually a higher quality wax, and we skip the paper – the wax is applied and then removed by hand from your body. To make things extra confusing – the strip wax is also hot. All wax should be hot. Whatever.

In terms of advice, if you’re just beginning, I’d say go for hot wax. It’s slightly less painful for some reason, and I find it’s more accurate when removing all those annoying tiny hairs. It is a little more expensive, though – you’ll find lower range salons don’t even do it, so avoid those ones.

The process

If you’re a massive prude, you’ll just have to get over it. It’s truly intimate and there’s no room for embarrassment. You’ll meet the waxer and will be fully exposed within about two minutes. They don’t even buy for a drink for the pleasure.

No but seriously – they literally don’t care.

She’ll probably ask you to lie down with your legs like a frog – you know, like you’re doing some kind of weird backwards breaststroke – and go from there. If it’s a good wax, she should get everywhere -and I mean EVERYWHERE that you haven’t specifically asked that she leave, i.e. if you’re getting a Brazilian.

The first time, you will probably be nervous and yes, it will hurt. It’s over quickly though, and it shouldn’t be unbearable, especially if the waxer is experienced. Rest assured, it will only get easier. I don’t even flinch anymore and regularly phone friends during a session to chat shite.

The whole thing should take about 10-15 minutes, or maybe a little longer if you’ve particularly dark or thick hair.

Aftermath

Unless you’re a waxing veteran, you might be feeling a little delicate. It’ll pass! Just avoid lace knickers and anything, erm, vigorous, for at least 24 hours.

Moisturise

I feel at my absolute sexiest when I’m sleek as a dolphin all over and this is at its optimum after a super good wax. Anywhere you’re removing hair, just slather on the moisturiser for best results. Keep it up, especially for the first few days.

DO NOT SHAVE

The worst part about waxing, for me anyway, is the awkward regrowth period you have to go through before you can get it done again. It’s awful! Patchy, itchy, annoying. I personally find hair there really ugly unless it’s extremely well maintained (as per a fresh wax), so this is doubly annoying. HOWEVER – DO NOT be tempted to shave in between waxes. It’s 100% not worth it. I don’t know the exact science behind this but it’s something about how the hair is stimulated to grow back. I have cracked a few times and shaved, and on going to get a new wax, it hurts just as much as the first time and takes longer. Avoid. The not flinching thing I mentioned earlier? That’s from following my own amazing waxing advice.

Follow the above rules and you’ll be golden. And smooth. Like some kind of golden, shiny, smooth egg.

I had a thought the other day, whilst lying in the chair of doom – if I’ve had that many waxes, at around £25 a go (yes – that’s £1,600 on waxing, I’ve spent), why not get laser treatment and get rid of it for good?

I negotiated a great deal for a package with my waxing lady! It actually works out at about the rate of six waxes (£150), and with my lack of growth, hopefully that will be the end of it FOREVER – absolute dream. Just don’t make me think about what I’ll look like at 80 with a Brazilian.

So just bear with, give me a few months and I’ll be sharing another post on what it’s like to have your clunge lasered. Super! You lucky lot.

Intrigued about my fanny? Lol, you weirdo. Have a read about menstrual cups here.

Rebrand? Yes.

millennial pink googly eyes rebrand

Welcome to the new-look blog!

I’ve run this blog since 2012 as an outlet for my creativity – especially back when I was selling bratwurst for a living. Since then, it’s grown into something I couldn’t have fathomed when I started it.

It’s opened many doors for me; socially, professionally and commercially and I’m so happy it’s expanded into something that’s (almost) financially viable.

That said, I just felt that the title ‘Ella in the Big City’ no longer reflected the direction of the blog.

I chose to simply rebrand the blog as myself: Ella Lucie. Ooh, sounds terribly narcissistic, put like that doesn’t it? Soz.

I spent ages fucking about with colour picker tools, and finally settled on this colour. It’s seriously heading into Millennial Pink territory but I properly rate it.

Has much changed?

I wondered about changing the tone of my writing, cutting out the swear words for example. BUT. I absolutely love coming across blogs that are clearly written by people who have a passion for it, and I can lose hours going through previous posts, simply because they make me laugh, or because they have a particularly exciting writing style.

Also, I believe there’s a really fine line to sponsored content. There’s nothing more annoying than a blog filled with nothing but saccharine sweet reviews whilst being practically smashed over the head with affiliate links: nah mate. If I’m lucky enough to be offered a product or experience, I’ll write about it because I like it.

So, because of this, I decided against changing anything about my writing. This blog is mine. If I want to sit down and bash out a sweary, 1,500-word emotionally-charged post, I will.

WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY IS: I’m really thrilled that this platform is heading in the right direction, but I think what’s most important to me is that I’m still writing for the love of it. But, if you want to come along for the expletive-filled journey, you are so welcome. Bring wine.

E x

Want to read more?

Work in hospitality?

hospitality white toast with pink spread pink background

A few months ago, I wrote about 10 things I learned in the hospitality industry. It wasn’t particularly complimentary. In fact, I included some pretty gross stuff.

A couple of weeks ago though, when scanning a place we were eating in with a critical eye for its waiter service and how long dishes were left on the hot plate before being run (a habit, even four years on, I can’t shake), Will asked me if I ever missed managing a restaurant.

Actually, I do. Oh, I wouldn’t go back. I’ve put my degree to good use and I’m working my way up the dream career ladder, steadily and hungrily. However, on reflection, there were some serious advantages and perks to working in service.

If you ever want to, or perhaps need to start a job in hospitality, here’s what they are:

Rapport with colleagues

I don’t know another job where you can get so frustrated with someone, call each other a c*nt, go outside to have a cigarette to calm down for five minutes, and then come back in and carry on laughing and joking as usual. It’s a stressful role and everyone recognised that. Nothing was personal, everything was about real team work.

I miss finishing a 14-hour shift and not bothering to go home, but sitting together in the empty restaurant and working your way through a pack of shared fags and your allocated staff drinks …heading to a club until 3am and then doing it all over again the next day. Or maybe that’s rose-tinted glasses – we definitely drank far too much!

You know the job inside out and upside down


By the end of my time at the restaurant, I don’t think there’s anything that could have been asked of me that I couldn’t sort out. I had that shit handled. Nowadays, I’m constantly learning on the job – developing new skills and doing new things. Errday. Whilst doing a great job is hugely satisfying, it can sometimes leave the door open to making mistakes.

When you look at it like that, I do sometimes miss the pure confidence I’d have in walking in the door at the restaurant and knowing that I could absolutely handle whatever the day threw at me. HOWEVER – mistakes make us. I’d also got to the point where there was no more to learn – and where’s the fun in that? Now, I love my personal mini fist-pumps when I manage to pull off a calculated risk at work, and the knowledge I’ll have learned something new by the end of the day.

Money


Now do not get it twisted. I earn a HELL of a lot more than I was ever earning before. But…there’s just something about that little brown envelope with your weekly wages in it that I found so satisfying. And the tips! The thrill of clearing the table and finding a crisp fiver under the plate – joy. We used to make (what we thought was) a fortune around Christmas too. If you’re good at your job, it pays off – and those tips helped me out no end when I was at uni.

Exercise


I certainly do miss the amount of exercise I got on a daily basis. A 12 hour shift, four or five times a week, walking to and from home …even with food, we were definitely creating a calorie deficit. It’s probably why we never gained any weight from all the booze we were drinking each night!

Sitting at a desk now, I have to be careful with what I eat, and there’s definitely more of a need for ‘proactive’ exercise, i.e. having to actually run my ass off until I’m dead a few times a week.

Not having to shop on the weekend

If you’ve never had the luxury of having a job where your days off are in the week, you don’t get it. Casually sweeping around shops, walking at the pace you like, not having to stop yourself CRACKING PEOPLE ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD FOR WALKING TOO SLOWLY. Switching to a 9-5 and venturing out to do a usual shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon had me thinking I’d made an error in life choice. Thank god for Amazon Prime, eh?

New people, everyday

My job is exciting and creative, I work with some great people and there are always more opportunities to meet fun and interesting individuals, whether that’s a prospect, client, journalist, influencer or colleague. My life is full of a bunch of sick people (my 2017 / 18 resolution, get rid of the arseholes – tick). Pretty much though, all these people are on a level and are fairly normal and friendly – or as normal as you can be, working in consumer PR, where you have to come up with wacky ideas daily.

So, I definitely miss the absolute fascination of meeting the biggest arseholes on the planet. There was nothing more fun for me than to sit and listen to how much of a stupid fucking blonde I was for serving them mushroom with bread dumplings that I asked for that but I am CLEARLY GLUTEN FREE [are you?] AND IT SHOULD BE CLEARLY MARKED ON THE MENU [it is]. I will never cease to be amazed at the lengths people will go to for a couple of pounds off a bill. Absolutely amazing. I wish I could write down all my stupid customer stories. Maybe I will, I’ve bloody got enough.

Maybe the last one is a weird quirk of mine, but working in hospitality isn’t all bad (although a lot of it is pretty fucking bad). I still definitely think it should be a requirement for everyone to have to work in a hospitality environment to understand what it’s like to be on the other side. Might write to the PM to make it part of work experience requirements or something. You might encounter the worst kind of scum (NB: you will), but you’ll also experience the fast-paced fun the job can bring.